Time for Truth

Sahabi, Rafsanjani and Melli Mazhabis


Time for Truth
by Fariba Amini

The Revolution could have never been realized without the leadership of the clergy, and if this support is diminished it will not last. -- Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

The passing of Ezatollah Sahabi and the tragic killing of his daughter Haleh sparked a new wave of bewilderment and anger among most Iranians. Ezatollah Sahabi died of old age after much suffering at the hands of the Shah’s regime and the Islamic Republic. Those who watched or heard of the killing of Haleh at the funeral of her father were shocked, heartbroken and angry at the circumstances that led to her death. There was no reason—as if any reason can justify this heinous act. But the fact remains that the best sons and daughters of this land, those who struggled and went to prison under the two regimes, fought for one thing: freedom, the rule of law and observance of the very basic rights of all citizens.

In the midst of this cruel episode, Hashemi Rafsanjani, former President of the Republic, member of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, also expressed his condolences at these deaths. But are we to believe such expressions of sympathy? I am not sure if we can, considering that he, as the President of the country at the time, was responsible for the imprisonment and torture of innocent men and women. It is best to just look at the record. Mr. Rafsanjani, who is now the self-styled champion of human rights, only a decade and more ago was himself an instrument of power. He not only endorsed the cruelty of the regime but was a witness and an accomplice in its crime. Hence, he has no place in a future government in our country.

Habibollah Davaran, a pharmacist and a Melli Mazhabi who died at the age of 76 after enduring prison and torture, and his colleague Farhad Behbani, wrote a book called “In the Company of Haji Aqa.” They wrote of their torture at the time when Mr. Rafsanjani was in power. Mehdi Bazargan was right when he told F. Behbehani that he should write his memoir for future generations- to grasp what took place in Iran’s prisons—with so many men and women going through psychological and physical torture. It is for all of Iran to realize that such history cannot and should never be repeated.

Excerpts from the book

“Yes, they arrested me three months after the publication of the letter, known as the 90-signature letter. There were 22 others who were arrested and blindfolded in Tehran. I will only give you a glimpse of my tenth day in prison. They took me from my solitary cell to the interrogation room and sat me on a chair. Two interrogators came in. One was referred to as Haji Aqa and had an assistant called Mr. 25. They both sat in front of me. I don’t recall the first two questions but all of a sudden Haji Aqa asked me who killed Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri.* I said ‘I don’t remember. I think he was sentenced by a cleric and then executed.’ Within seconds, at the order of Haji Aqa, Mr. 25 slapped me so hard that I fell on the ground. He asked some other questions and every time, more slaps lacerated my face. When he got fed up with me, he asked abruptly ‘Who is Fazlollah Borghei?’ At this time, I was so shaken and in pain that I asked in astonishment ‘I don’t know; I have nothing to do with him.’ They didn’t wait for my reply and the three of them took to me to a dark room, chained my feet and hands and put me on a wooden stretcher. And he ordered Mr. 25 to beat and beat. After saying Besmellah, he beat me on the soles of my feet. When I had no more energy left and I said Ey Allah, he told me, ‘What did you say? You brought up the name of Allah?’ Then he ordered Mr. 25 to go to number 2.

[Referring to the level of torture]. When the beating started I do not remember what happened. I just knew that I passed out. I only thought of those who went on to number 3.”

“Yes, Brother, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, this is what happened to those of us who were mere critics of the regime in those days. We did nothing except to express our criticism within the framework of law and were doing nothing clandestinely. We only wrote a letter to the President, that is you. If they did that to me, a 51- year old man, and I know my patience was limited, God knows what they did to the younger people.”

The group known as the 90 signature campaign wrote to the then President of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani. Among those were numerous well-known political figures. They only demanded an end to economic mismanagement and social abuse. But 23 of them were arrested; some are deceased now, among them Ezatollah Sahabi. They underwent severe torture and abuse and were branded as spies for America. They were made to confess for “crimes” they never committed, all under the watchful eyes of Mr. Rafsanjani.

“Fourteen of them were held in solitary confinement under physical and mental torture and were freed finally. Nine others were sentenced without having access to lawyers. Many were in their 60’s and 70’s and had undergone physical abuse during the Pahlavi era. The beatings known as Taazir was not justifiable even under the laws of the Islamic Republic. Such beatings resulted in kidney failure, heart arrest and total physical torment. Is it justifiable to torture an individual because they wrote a letter to the President? Does an Islamic society permit such measures, which are against the principles of Islam and humanity? Unfortunately Mr. Rafsanjani, in his clever way, while responding to questions from the foreign and Iranian media and more specifically to Aftab-e- Emrooz, said, “If these arrests were made in response to the letter, it was incorrect but we must investigate why the arrests were made in the first place? (1378/9/30)

In that same year, Rafsanjani said to a reporter from Le Monde: “The Liberals who were recently arrested were spies and working for the U.S. government and taking their orders from the said government.”

Fourteen of those arrested are no longer with us. Twenty three are in poor health.

How long can this abuse and the infringements upon the rights of our society continue? Should we trust the likes of Rafsanjani or others who were in power at some point? Should our society rely upon people who have already shown their true character in statements and practice?

The answer is NO.

The bottom line is that even the sons and daughters of interrogators such as Haji Aqa or Mr. 25 should not live in an Iran that calls for torture of its citizens because they objected to certain ideas…..and still do.

In the Company of Haji Aqa: A Story of a Confession, the memoirs of two prisoners of the 90 Signature Letter, Habibollah Davaran and Farhad Behbehani: Omid-e Farda, 1382, Tehran, Iran. Translations by Fariba Amini.

* Sheikh Fazlollah Noori was a Shiite Muslim cleric who fought against the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1906 and was executed as a result. Today, he is considered a martyr by the Islamic Republic of Iran.


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areyo barzan

Dear Rain Bow movement

by areyo barzan on

Although I agree with some of your words, but I am afraid I must tell you that you have got one major point drastically wrong. The problem is that we are still allowing passion to push aside the logic.


The only person who deceived us was ourselves; it was our own ignorance and radicalism and mostly it was a unreformed backward culture.

You see? I was there from the very beginning and remember it vividly. Almost all of the ordinary people in the street were followers of Khomeini carrying his pictures and listening to his speeches furthermore they all wanted an Islamic Republic without knowing what it is and in the end it was them who dragged these political groups along.

In the first days many of these groups especially Cherikha and other communist lefty groups were resisting the idea of a religious regime but at the end the day they had to along with it and bow to the peoples demand.


Even the day in Brhesht Zahra when Khomeini called for Shir-o-Khorshid to be eliminated from our flag and demanded that our symbols should be Islamic and not Iranian, I did not see a single person to object.


This was simply because most of our people were ignorant uneducated and misinformed plus the fact that they had a certain degree of fanaticism about Islam and a lot of fantasy on what an Islamic Regime is. These fantasies were mostly based upon the religious backward culture and the lies that Mullah fed them during years.


Furthermore they were strangers to their own Persian culture, nationalism, literature and history


As far as the Shah and Pahlavi regime is concerned I would like to think that no one appreciated what they did for this country more than me. And this is not trough blind conviction but because I have done many years of research on what they did for us and how they transformed this country and pushed it forward for at least 200 years. Furthermore I am proud to claim that I was one of the very few minority people at the time who never participated in that disaster of revolution and never revolted against the Shah.


But I still can not ignore the mistakes that were made at the time. Mistakes that were even accepted by the Shah himself it his last book (Answer to History). For example slow paste of political reform, lack of freedom of speech and most importantly ignoring the open letter that one year earlier Dr Bakhtiar and Dr Soroosh and a few others wrote to him asking for reforms and warning about the troubles ahead.


But in my personal opinion from all the mistakes the biggest one was standing up to the West and hiking the price of Oil to $40 per barrel in 1978 and even threatening to increase it to $200 in the next few years.


That was an stupid act especially with the state of mind of the nation and ignorant backward culture that our people were living in. people who knew more about Hamza, Ammar, Hosein and Hor than they ever  knew about Koorosh, darush, TAhmineh and Babak Khoramdin, people who go to Arabestan more times in their miserable lives than ever going to Pasargad, Persepolis or Bam, were not ready to stand up to the West. or defend their national interest as they did not even have a clue about what it meant


He thought a number of (however massive) economical improvements and industrialization of the country and putting a few people into universities or sending some of them abroad to the West in order for them to learn what the world is all about, will change the culture and open people’s eyes. But it is the fact that if one is an ignorant religious fanatic even going to Europe will not change him for better and only mutate him to Ali Shariati.


No matter how much you like a person or feel a debt of gratitude towards him the truth is always the truth and a true friend should always point your mistakes


Our problem is our ignorance

by rain bow movment on

32 years ago most of middle class Iranian (like me) were decived by meelion,nehzat azadi(nehzate Aftabeh) hezbe toudeh,cheryek fadaie,mojahedin khalgh and.....

then they get in bed with the devil khomayni and Co ,then start a race to get closer to the devil and spaying on each other killing their owen members if they are qustioning the party movment and we all  know the rest.

and now after 32 years any of these so called intellectual writing an article they start to attack the shah or pahlavi regim ,to elevating and buying credit for themselve .or like mr masoud talking about torture in pahlavi's regim(which I never agree to imprisond & tortur of any politcal person) forget how the political party killing their on member for not agree with the political movment of the party.


Bazargan,forohar,sahabi,yazdi(jenayatkar) are the victim of their own ego and ignorance.

There is no limit to stupidity & ignorance

areyo barzan

Dear Pendar Nik

by areyo barzan on

In my humble opinion after 30 years track records of rape torture destruction and killing by the IRI, asking for more evidence or even trying to provide it for those who are still hiding their heads between their legs, is a waist of time and a bit of a useless practice.


This is simply because if you did not get it by now, then you never will. You see mate, one can provide all the evidence in the world but at the end of the day people believe what people want to believe.


It is for this very same reason that there is still a huge community around the world and especially in US who believe that the moon landing have never happened and it was a TV hoax. The same way that there are still many people, especially in the developed world who believe that the Earth is flat and it is located at the centre of the universe and the last but by no mean least there are still people around the world who believe that Holocaust never happened.


These people think in such a way not for any logical reasons or even out of any rational scepticism, but because they want to believe that way. you see? It is always easier to deny the facts rather than challenging the mind and re-examining one’s wisdom and values.


At the end of the day one could drag a mule to the water hole but can never make it drink



by پندارنیک on

Any offense, let alone a murder, remains as an alleged crime until proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

There are some of us who consider that statement a hodgepodge of fancy western words not applicable to us...........I hope you are not one of them! 

Fariba Amini


by Fariba Amini on

How do we know that Haleh Sahabi was murdered?!!!!!


Only there were several eyewitnesses, including some of her relatives and some journalists.

Did Zahra Kazemi die of natural causes, or Neda? or Sohrab? or Mohsen? or......

Of course criminals deny what the do....


The murder of Haleh, by islamist bassiji thugs..

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

in front of hundreds of shocked eyewitnesses during her father's funeral, Was a clear indication, if any was needed, that the Islamist fascist regime has now completely and officially turned it's back on  the very last major social classes in Iran still supporting it; Namely the better off  urban, religious  middle class, otherwise known as "melli mazhabi".

As such Haleh's tragic murder by islamist regime,  will in the long term hasten the formation of the "national liberation front" needed, comprising of all Iranians of different backgrounds and ideologies, in order to overthrow the islamist regime and replace it with a democratic secular system of government.

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."


Mayors addicted to garbage

by پندارنیک on

How do we know that Haleh Sahabi was murdered?

Maryam Hojjat

I have to agree with Siavash300 & MARX

by Maryam Hojjat on

their arguements make more sense to me than others.  They are more tangible.



by MRX1 on

The irony is, if the people mentioned in this posting wouldn't have beterayed shah of Iran, chnaces are they would have been alive now, living in prosperity , modernity and more freedom than they ever imagined under his son's leadeship. instead they made a deal with devil and they themselves, their family and he whole country paid and paying an ultimate price.  Let the lesson be learned. Although I much doubt that people in Iran ever learn from history..........

Fariba Amini

build a new Iran

by Fariba Amini on

We must create a new society, free of hatred.

It is more difficult to build than to destroy.  

We must learn from past mistakes but let's stop the blame game.

Chile had a coup d'etat but they moved on.

I will begin with myself.




by Siavash300 on



Democracy in western style

by Siavash300 on

"Such atrocities will continue until dictatorship (e.g., Vf regime, the Shah’d regime) is replaced with a democracy" Massoud

 Speaking of democracy in a country that more than 75% of it's population were living in rural area and almost 90 % couldn't even read or write their names back in 50's seems way far from reality and just living in dreamland. Dr. Fatemi's speech in Maydan-e-Baharestan back in 1953 and his request for overthrowing monarchy in favor of Tudeh party and Soveit Union was not something to be tolerated by majority who could read or write their names. I am glad they were not successful. Needless to say that our truck drivers were going through Bulgeria and Yogouslavi back in 70's and we were hearing stories of the women in those countries who were selling their bodies for exchange of pack of cigaretts or pair of socks because high level of poverty. Those who keep saying Mosaddeq democratic govenment always forget to mention this part or they don't remember what happened to Soviet Union later on.  We have to educate Kinzer as well. Poor guy didn't have any clue of what was going on when he wrote "all shah's men".

Speaking of democracy?  The level of illetracy was over 80%, if not more back then. Following shah white revolution  "Sepahe Danesh" went to the rural area and educated those deprived and remote  area of country back in 60's. By late 70's the level of illeracy dropped from 85% to  45%. Even though in late 70's with all effort that shah and his administration did for fighting against ignorancy and illetracy the  majority of Iranian people were able to see picture of Khomainie on the surface of moon. some people even found Khomainie's hair in koran. Talking of democracy in such a society in western style? Talking of democracry without understanding demography of country.  Talk is cheap but reality mandate something else.  Comparing Iran with some advance country such as Swiss, which celeberate 400 years of the establishment of their univeristy, is indication of one's poor judgement. It shows the writer is living in dreamland, not in Iran.  By 1935, Reza shah established Tehran university, the higest level of education in Iran was high school diploma. Now comparing such a country with advance society like Swiss make any rational person to laugh.



areyo barzan

Dear Ms Amini

by areyo barzan on

Again although I agree with all your words, I should emphasize that you are only describing the symptoms and not the root cause. This is not what I or any one else who lives under the effects of such symptoms is interested in. All of us already know the symptoms and the effects of the problems in our culture and society.


However what would make a difference here is identifying and addressing the root cause. Knowing why our people behave in such way. Why individuals, who once were the advocates of democracy and freedom and people who have paid dearly for restoring these values, became the next suppressors and killers, given half a chance and how to break this vicious circle.


It is to understand what is our role and responsibility in all this and where do we stand in terms of addressing the underlying problem, of which these are the symptoms.


As I told Masoud this is a cultural and social problem that needs to be addressed at the very local level and the roots of our society and needs to start from a very young age.


However to resolve any problem first one needs to admit its existence. While we are in denial of our shortcomings and look or escape goats to dislodge our responsibilities. While we do not accept any obligations towards the shortcomings in our society or the rights fellow countrymen as they say


 Hamin Aash ast-o hamin Kaaseh


Having said that however, I can also inform you that luckily it is not all doom and gloom. As I look at our new generation I can see that they have already adapted a new vision and a different approach with respect to their society and the rest of the world.


The work of rebuilding our society and addressing our ill behaviours has already been started by the younger generation in Iran.


However we should all keep in mind that this is a long and painstakingly slow process and we are bound to make several mistakes along the way. Now! By denying or undermining those mistakes we do not do anyone a favour. The only way forward is to accept our errors and learn from them, no BS


So to start it would be a good practice to have a honest and unprejudiced look at our past in order to identify our errors so that they won’t be repeated again


"Those who watched or heard of the killing of Haleh"

by ComraidsConcubine on

 Has this been established by an independent public enquiry as fact? 

So far, all I've heard is hear-say and read a lot of spinternetting.  Hardly a step towards a democracy.

I expect greater level-headedness from the distinguished author of this article and perhaps a reliable source for the allegations, which I would be very happy to read. 


Fariba Amini

This cycle has to end

by Fariba Amini on

Masoud is right.  However, the point here is not to condemn the Shah or his regime.  The point is that most of the people in power today, including Rafsanjani, Khamenei, Shariatmadari and the rest were all political prisoners during the Shah's time alongside men like Sahabi, NF the leftists etc.


What did they do when they got out and became men in power? 

They executed and murdered those who paved the way for them.

Therefore, their record is not clean and they shall have no role in a future government in Iran.

The Shah had prisons, Savak tortured. Golesorkhi, Jazani and others were exectued. But Saeid Soltanpour who had been in prison during the Shah and released was taken to the gallows,  the night of his wedding day and exectued by the new men in power of the Islamic regime.  Rafsanjani did not object......  They cheered and executed more.  What had Sahabi done to deserve 16 years in prison under both regimes? 

This cycle has to end.  For good.   Iran can no longer take this and Iranians should object en masse.  



areyo barzan

Masoud Jaan

by areyo barzan on

Your problem is that you are still sticking to the old propaganda.

No one denies that there was mistakes many of which were made by the ordinary Iranians such as you and me.

Mistreatment and torture is not something that one regime can introduce and another one can eliminate.


This solely depends on our attitudes towards one another and how much respect we have to the person with opposite point of view to us.


This is a cultural and social problem and until this problem is resolved we might change the regime 100s of times but the torturers of Evin will be there only with another name and agenda.


You see democracy is not something that you can shove up a nation’s back side hopping  to change them to French society overnight. This take education, hard work and more importantly accepting personal responsibility towards the society we live is and the course actions we take. It is about knowing where to draw the line and not to promote self interest over the interest on the country. This takes years of practice, education and more importantly being blunt and honest with oneself  


However having said all that I should also admit today even the opponents of the late Shah have admitted that they have exaggerated the abuse of human rights and number of political prisoners at the time grossly, in order to push their own agenda.


But the main point here is the mistake that we as a nation and specially our 'intellectuals' have made by starting a revolution without having a viable strategy in place or even knowing what they wanted. By following a leader without knowing the first thing about him and what he stands for and finally by asking for an Islamic Republic without even knowing the first thing about the tow totally contrary concepts of “Islamic” or “Republic”.


And until we as a nation and especially our so called intellectuals are mature enough to admit to our mistake noting much will change.


Please remember that this is NOT about defending Shah’s records or putting down a nation’s ambitions for more and better but it is about the way we go about achieving it and our immature words and inept actions. More importantly about accepting one’s mistakes when due without any IFs, BUTs or other deviating BS

Masoud Kazemzadeh

All Human Rights Violations Are Bad

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on


BOTH the Shah and Vf regime imprisoned, tortured and killed democrats, liberal Islamists (present-day Melli Mazhabis, Nehzat Azadi), Marxists, PMOI, etc.

Such atrocities will continue until dictatorship (e.g., Vf regime, the Shah’d regime) is replaced with a democracy. If, however, the this ruling tyranny is replaced by the likes of you, then such atrocities will continue. I have not seen the monarchists apologize for the atrocities they have committed against the Iranian people and condemn the executions of Dr. Fatemi, and murders of Karimpour Shirazi, and Col. Sakhae.

To have human rights in Iran, the overthrow of the monarchy was necessary but not sufficient. 



we reap what we sow

by Siavash300 on

All shah's opponents one after the other is paying for their actions against the late shah. It started with MKO and left extremist such as Ashraf Dehgan group,  Moeist paykar organization. Then it came the time for moderate left such as Fadayen (majority) and their comrades Tudeh. After the left wing groups,  it was the time for Melis and follwers of Mosaddeq such as pan Iranians. Later was the time for Meli Mazhabi such as Democratic movement front. At the end was the time for all those who were cheerleadering Khomanine in those days. His buddies such as Rafsanjani and Mosavie and Karoubi.  During last 32 years of barbaric republic all shah's opponents paid dearly for their action against shah. I finally came to conclusion that Shah's tears, in Mehrabad airport in jan 1979,  was not absured.

The torture and murdering of innocent Iranians will continue till shah's remain returns to Iran.

Payandeh our Aryan Land Iran


When Rafsanjani was asked

by Mammad on

why the nationalist-religious people, including Ezatollah Sahabi, had been arrested, he responded, "Because they had become too brazen [porroo]."

Of course, he never thought that two decades later we would be where we are now. He thought that he would be in power until he dies.